Authenticity drives basketball, and it doesn’t get any realer than Jemerrio Jones. Fans of the NBA had to be wondering where the hell did he come from and what does he have to offer to one of the biggest sports franchises of all-time. In a Los Angeles Lakers season that continues to be filled with drama, Jones was a bright spot for the squad.
Who is Jemerrio Jones?
Jones is a true small-time kid. He doesn’t seem phased by the glitz and glamour that a city like Los Angeles has to offer. However, his presence on the court is like lightning in a bottle. You might catch him hounding Steph Curry on the perimeter. If he isn’t there, he’s banging in the paint with Rudy Gobert. Whichever role he is playing, Jones goes full-throttle.
Off the floor, he’s as appreciative of playing the highest level of basketball. His route to get here was full of hills and valleys. Jones went undrafted out of New Mexico State and got the attention of the Lakers G-League affiliate. Before getting to New Mexico State, he spent two years at Hill College, a community college. Dating back to high school, he suffered an ACL tear and dropped out during spring semester.
You couldn’t write this script if Rob Pelinka recruited Steve Spielberg.
Jones was never supposed to make it this far after his ups and down. He has Memphis roots that are hard to ignore. Jones hails from South Memphis in the Orange Mound community. Orange Mound is one of the first African-American communities built by African-Americans in Tennessee. In 1994, one year before Jones was born, it was the top area in Memphis for murders, burglaries, and sexual assault. The community made drastic improvements which likely allowed Jones to thrive and fulfill his NBA dreams.
From the G League to the NBA
As a G-Leaguer, he was a jack of all trades with an unusual knack for rebounding. At just 6’5, he ranked fourth in the G League with a total of 449 rebounds during his time with the South Bay Lakers. The toughness that drives him comes from within. He spoke with Lakers.com about his drive:
“I just love basketball, so if you see me, you’ll like the game I play too, because it ain’t all about a bucket,” said Jones. “It’s about the little things. The dirty work. The nitty gritty.
“But I’d play basketball even if I wasn’t getting paid. No matter what. It’s something that eases my mind … as soon as I touch the practice floor, I’m good.”
Nothing changed once he got his call-up with the Lakers, despite making only six appearances. Jones posted double-digit rebounds in his last three games, including 16 rebounds against the Utah Jazz and 15 rebounds against the Portland Trail Blazers. Those two games were Jones’ first two NBA starts. Never in a million years would Jemerrio have dreamed of seeing his name with NBA greats, but he was able to make that dream a reality.
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) April 11, 2019
What does the future hold?
Jones’ contract was through the rest of this season with a team option for next year. Despite big free agent aspirations, he’s earned his spot on a list of guys that need to be back. His joy and effort are what every team needs in their practices and during game-time. He’s even a media darling. Jones is always dropping a gem on reporters graced by his heavy southern drawl:
Scrappy is cliché, but it’s a damn good quality for a player to have and creates advantages for winning teams. Jones is going to be more than a great story one day and Lakers fans are happy that story is unfolding in Los Angeles.